“To fall in love is easy, even to remain in it is not difficult; our human loneliness is cause enough. But it is a hard quest worth making to find a comrade through whose steady presence one becomes steadily the person one desires to be.”
-Anna Louse Strong
I read this quote years ago in a book that had nothing to do with love. It has stayed with me because it is the best description I have come across to describe something so elusive to pin down. There are a few types of love in life, but this quote gets to the heart of what love should be in all its forms.
When someone loves you like they should, they see you and embrace you for who you are. They don’t see themselves reflected back in your words, thoughts, and actions. They don’t listen to you and find ways to interpret secret messages and motivations that are rooted in what you may think about what they are doing or what you may be feeling about them. This is the most pervasive form of narcissism because it is so insidiously disguised as true love. Narcissism in essence, is where jealousy plants its roots. Jealousy has nothing to do with love. Jealousy is a defense mechanism wired in our DNA, and the fact that it so often coincides with feelings we think are love allows it much more acceptance than it is worthy of.
When someone loves you like they should, they are the first to tell you they are proud of you. They don’t withhold this sentiment for need of control or threat of change. It happens so often in relationships where people claim to be supportive of what you are doing, but you find clues that maybe they aren’t so supportive after all. Sometimes it is because the other person can see that your plans aren’t true to you. Maybe they sense you are trying to be someone you are not and want you to return to yourself. This is something that someone who loves you will help you examine. However, if you are certain that what you aspire to be is truly in line with who you are, no one who loves you like they should would do anything but express the most enthusiastic support, and feel your triumphs and failures as if they were theirs.
When someone loves you like they should, an innate sense of honor takes hold in that their reverence of what they see in you naturally brings out their best. There is no room for pettiness when love is expressed the way it should be. Love should elevate you. Enough said on that.
It really is this simple. If you are ever trying to decide if the word love applies to a relationship you are in, whether this be family, friends, or lovers, yes or no answers to a few basic questions will suffice. Here are the questions:
- Do you feel accepted?
- Do you accept the other person?
- Do you really want to see the other person’s dreams come true?
- Does the other person really want to see your dreams come true?
- Do you still want their dreams to come true even if it means you lose them from your life?
- Do they still want your dreams to come true even if it means they lose you from theirs?